Reps. Engel, Lowey, Maloney Applaud NOAA for Commenting on Potential Impact of Anchorage Grounds in Hudson River

Reps. Engel, Lowey, Maloney Applaud NOAA for Commenting on Potential Impact of Anchorage Grounds in Hudson River

Westchester, NY— At the request of Congress Members Eliot Engel (NY-16), Nita Lowey (NY-17), and Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently submitted comments on the United States Coast Guard’s (USCG) proposal to establish 10 new anchorage sites for large commercial barges along a 70 mile stretch of the Hudson River.

“We are pleased that NOAA heeded our call to share their expertise on endangered species and their critical habitat in the Hudson River,” the Members of Congress said jointly.  “We believe it is vital for the Coast Guard to understand all potential economic, security, and environmental impacts of their controversial proposal – including impacts on the fragile health of our precious river and the unique life that it supports.”

Select excerpts from NOAA’s submission include the following:

·         “The Hudson River supports populations of ESA listed Atlantic and shortnose sturgeon and is being proposed for designation as critical habitat for the endangered New York Bight distinct population segment of Atlantic sturgeon.”

·         “A proposed rule regarding the designation of critical habitat for the New York Bight DPS of [sic] published in the Federal Register on June 3, 2016.  The proposed critical habitat . . . includes all of the potential anchorage areas.” [emphasis added]

·         “We expect any future rulemaking to designate anchorage areas would need to consider impacts to both Atlantic sturgeon and their critical habitat.”

·         “Vessel strikes are known to injure and kill sturgeon.  However, there is a paucity of information for other affects to sturgeon from vessel activities including anchoring.  We recently awarded funding for a study to investigate the effects of anchor scarring within the existing Hudson River anchorages where sturgeon are known to occur.  We expect that the results of this study will further our understanding of the impacts of large commercial anchors on habitats used by sturgeon in the Hudson River.”

·         “Any consideration of designating an anchorage should include a complete and thorough assessment of:  . . . impacts to sturgeon, particularly early life stages, of disturbance of river sediments resulting from anchor deployment, chain sweep, and anchor removal; impacts to habitat, including the features of the proposed critical habitat; impacts to sturgeon prey; and, effects to how sturgeon use the areas.” 

·         “If you move forward with the designation of one or more anchorage areas, we expect this would be considered a federal action requiring ESA section 7 consultation.  As you know,section 7(a)(2) of the ESA requires that each Federal agency shall insure that any action authorized, funded, or carried outby such agency is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered species or threatened speciesor result in the destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat.”